Out of Hibernation

Well, yes, it has been a goodly while since the last missive. There are some exciting happenings on the event horizon, so let’s get right to it.

Afore I forget, my “First Recital in Forever” will take place on Mother’s Day, May 10 at Roosevelt University’s famous Ganz Hall in Chicago at 430 S. Michigan Avenue, 7th floor. It’s free, at 3pm, and will feature not one but two world premieres. More on this below.

For anyone who is interested (and 4 out of 5 dentists are), my performance schedule for the the near future is:

Sunday, March 29, Red Line Tap, Chicago, IL, 4pm

Gunnelpumpers comes out of hibernation to share a Sunday matinee performance with whitewolfsonicprincess (WWSP) and other variety show acts. I’ve temporarily taken over bass playing duties with WWSP, so it’ll be a busily enjoyable afternoon.



Sunday, April 12, North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, Skokie, IL, 3pm

Ars Viva Symphony performs Nielsen, Waxman, and Symphony No. 2 by Serge Rachmaninoff. I still remember performing the Rachmaninoff with Vilem Sokol and the Seattle Youth Symphony back in the day. Such a great piece, and will be performed by an outstanding group. Hit me up if you’re interested in attending.



Sunday, April 19, Pick Staiger Concert Hall, Evanston, IL, 7pm

Chicago Philharmonic performs great works of Spanish and French composers, including Debussy’s spellbinding La Mer (The Sea) and Ravel’s Piano Concerto for Left Hand. There has been a lot of speculation on what soloist Jorge Federico Osorio will be doing with his right hand during this performance, but twirling a drumstick is the odds-on favorite. This is a superb orchestra.



Sunday, April 26, North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, Skokie, IL, 3pm

Skokie Valley Symphony Orchestra is presenting a concert of musical theater and opera works.



Sunday, May 10, Ganz Hall, Chicago, IL, 3pm

May 10 is Mother’s Day, and what better way to celebrate it than with brunch and a bass recital (brunch not included). This is my first recital since, ahem, skinny ties were in vogue and nirvana meant only a blissful state, thus the “First Recital in Forever” moniker. This, presumably, will be my one and only First Recital in Forever, and forever is a very long time, especially in dog years.

It’s an ambitious and challenging project, but I am so excited about the beautiful 2006 Sergio Scaramelli bass acquired last fall that something had to be done about it. The first half will consist of two wonderfully lyrical works: Rossini’s Duet for ‘Cello and Bass with the inimitable Mark Lekas, and my first performance of Schubert’s “Arpeggione” Sonata in A minor with the supremely talented Michael Miller on piano. The second half will exclusively feature works by Michael Miller and myself, including the world premieres of Michael’s “Insomnia” for solo bass and my “Waltzscherzo” for six basses to be performed by an unnamed group. (Really, it doesn’t yet have a name.)

It’s free, it’s at the gorgeous and historic Ganz Hall downtown Chicago, both my mom and dad will be there are. Lots of fine music, new and old. Hope you can make it! https://www.facebook.com/events/586673501476044/


Sunday, May 17, North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, Skokie, IL, 3pm

Ars Viva Symphony final concert of the season consists of works inspired by the plays of Shakespeare. As always, let me know if you are interested in going. This is a superb orchestra. http://arsviva.org/concerts/#5


Friday, May 22, 27 Live, Evanston, IL, evening

whitewolfsoniceprincess opens for the The Rolling Clones, a great cover band of you know you. Percussionist and Gunnelpumpers co-founder Randy Farr will be jamming with both groups.


Sunday, May 31, Red Line Tap, Chicago, IL, 4pm

Gunnelpumpers comes out of hibernation AGAIN to share a Sunday matinee performance with whitewolfsonicprincess (WWSP) and other variety show acts. This could become a regular thang, so c’mon out and represent!


Saturday, June 13, Uncommon Ground (Devon), Chicago, IL, evening

Gunnelpumpers (no longer in hibernation) and WWSP will be sharing the bill at the wonderful Uncommon Ground on Devon.


Sunday, June 21, Bellingham High School Auditorium, Bellingham, WA, 3pm

Not only will I be doing a special concert on Mother’s Day, but Father’s Day as well, for which both of my wonderful parents will also be in attendance. I’m overjoyed to be participating in the Bellingham Music Club’s all-star Gala Concert with my brother Jeffrey (all the way from Spain) and many other dear friends and colleagues with whom I started making great music with way back in the day.



Sunday, September 27, St. Luke Church, Chicago, IL 4pm

Performing Bach’s Great Catholic Mass (aka Mass in B Minor), led by long-time friend Mark Bangert. Not to be missed. http://www.stlukechicago.org/church/music_bach.shtml

Well, that all’s for now. I hope you are well and see you somewhere soon!

Douglas “Doug” Johnson

Holy Smokes, Five More Shows Online!

Despite being sick the last couple of days, I’ve been on a roll with regard to editing additional live recordings and getting them up on this here site.

  1. Tritonium CD Release Party at Gallery Cabaret

    This live performance was recorded on June 9, 2012 at Gallery Cabaret in Chicago, Illinois. The occasion was the CD release party for Tritonium, Gunnelpumpers third album. The evening opened with a set by Black Hole Trio, and ended with a performance by Origin of Animal.

  2. Phyllis’ Musical Inn (8/30/2012)

    A live recording of Gunnelpumpers at Phyllis’ Musical Inn in Chicago on August 30, 2012. We were the only group playing that night, and performed two sets. Excluding the pescatarians in the group, the lot of us ate a lot of fine barbecue between sets next door at The Smoke Daddy and probably overdid things in that respect.

  3. Gallery Cabaret (1/26/2013)

    One of our best shows. This live performance was recorded on January 26, 2013, at Gallery Cabaret in Chicago, Illinois. The evening opened with a sets from Christina Trulio and whitewolfsonicprincess. Bassist Douglas Johnson, who organized the event, performed with all three groups.The Gunnelpumpers set was one of the loudest on record, and prompted complaints from some of Gallery Cabaret’s neighbors. It was also the first Gunnelpumpers set to feature two electric guitarists, which might explain the roudness. This was the last time we worked with soundman Garrett Lane at the Gallery Cabaret, since he and the bar had a parting of ways not long after this show. He was always a big proponent of what we do, as evidenced by his “God Bless the Gunnelpumpers!” at the end of Track 4 Fabula Rasa.

  4. The Whistler (2/17/2013)

    This live performance was recorded on February 17, 2013, at The Whistler in Chicago, Illinois. The evening opened with the Gunnelpumpers set, followed by one from Crown Larks, who were busy at the time recording their debut CD.

  5. Phyllis’ Musical Inn (3/1/2013)

    This live performance was recorded on March 1, 2013, at Phyllis’ Musical Inn in Chicago, Illinois. The evening opened with a blistering set from Department of Revenge.


To see all of our live recordings online, go to http://gunnelpumpers.com/live/ or click Live under the Recordings menu. Clicking a musician’s name will display all of the live shows that individual performed on.

New Live Recordings

Yeahhh, so I’ve been dragging my feet getting lots o’ live recordings online for streaming and such. The number of unedited live recordings had become rather overwhelming, and then I forgot how to edit the WAV files to boot, having been long out of practice. So, anyway, I decided to figure it out and at least take a bite out of it the mountain of raw recordings. putting the contents of five shows up in the last couple days.

Keller House Concert (9/21/2013): A set of music at the home of one S. Keller and friends on September 21, 2013. Also featured on the program were A Light Sleeper and Origin of Animal.

Wayne Street Block Party (8/17/2013): A live recording of Gunnelpumpers at the Wayne Street Block Party in Chicago, Illinois on August 17, 2013. The drummer Steven Rutstein had come down with a nasty case of bronchitis and was unable to perform, resulting in an extremely rare membranophone-less set.

Martyrs’ CD Release Party for Montana Fix: This is a live Gunnelpumpers set performed at Martyrs’ in Chicago on July 24, 2013. Performances by The Ham Council and Sophisafunk rounded out the evening. This was the CD release show for Gunnelpumpers fourth album, Montana Fix.

Gallery Cabaret (4/27/2013): A live recording of Gunnelpumpers at Gallery Cabaret in Chicago on April 27, 2013. We were the last of four bands and started very late, the crowd having thinned significantly by the time we played. Guitarist Steve Roberts, who was playing Book of Mormon, had planned to join us but ended up leaving before our set due to a matinee the next day. This is one of those rare performances where we seemed to draw everything from thin air, without any previous grooves known to us. The three groups preceding us were Hannah Frank and Company, The Red Apples, and whitewolfsonicprincess.

Stage Bar (9/22/2012): This is a live set performed at the Stage Bar  in Chicago on September 22, 2012. Also featured on the program were Chris Bock and whitewolfsonicprincess. One strange thing that happened this evening was that Gunnelpumper Michael Hovnanian was on his way to play with us after his concert with the Chicago Symphony, and before he arrived, the television in the bar showed that the symphony had just gone on strike moments before the concert! Fortunately, they were able to resolve their differences in a number of days.

To see all of our live recordings online, go to http://gunnelpumpers.com/live/ or click Live under the Recordings menu. Clicking a musician’s name will display all of the live shows that individual performed on.

Gunnelpumpers “Montana Fix” CD release Wednesday, July 24

Hello good people,

Gunnelpumpers is thrilled to be releasing our fourth CD, the 19-track “Montana Fix”, this coming Wednesday. The official event will happen at Martyrs‘ at 3855 N. Lincoln Avenue of our fair city, Chicago. The cover is only $7 and anyone age 17+ may attend!

If you can’t be there, consider showing your support by purchasing the CD just about anywhere online (our favorite is Bandcamp), friend us on Facebook, or support your local live music scene and musical innovators.

Also performing Wednesday will be The Ham Council, for whom this is also a release party for their new CD, “you need to work on your character flaws”, as well as the touring Sophistafunk from Syracuse, NY. Sophistafunk leader Adam Gold is owner of the renowned Funk ‘n Waffles in Syracuse, and both the restaurant and the band were recently featured on FoodTV’s DDD. Sophistafunk is a trio consisting of synth bass/keys, drums, and rapper.

8:00 Gunnelpumpers
9:00 The Ham Council
10:00 Sophistafunk

Gunnelpumpers is thrilled to have original member, percussionist Doug Brush, join us Wednesday. He is visiting all the way from New Zealand for his parents 50th wedding anniversary and the timing for us could not have worked out better. Also playing this night will be Bob Garrett on drum kit, Randy Farr on percussion, Michael Hovnanian on double bass, John Meyer on electric guitar, and I’ll be playing whatever I happen to bring along. Two of those who also recorded on Montana Fix will be unable to join us Wednesday, but the significant contributions of Matthew Golombisky and Quinlan Kirchner are duly noted and appreciated!

Thanks so much for your support!

Douglas Johnson

Below are highlights from several reviews of Montana Fix that have been written. Two of them are in German, one in Russian, and the others are good olde English.:

“A lot of avant-garde bands will toss a bunch of disparate stuff together in hopes that they come up with exotic combinations that work. The Gunnelpumpers do that, too, but the difference with these guys is that just about everything they try actually does work. Gunnelpumpers have truly created a sound of their own that’s hard to categorize. They rarely stay on the main path, but that’s what makes Montana Fix such a thrilling listen. The Gunnelpumpers manage to make refreshingly original music when we’ve thought everything has already been done before.”
– S. Victor Aaron, Something Else! Reviews (Jul 19, 2013)

“Gunnelpumpers perform some of the most extreme forms of darkly Gothic, chaotic, confrontational, and dissonant music this side of John Zorn, John Cage, King Crimson, Univers Zero, Henry Cow, Velvet Underground, Syd Barrett era Pink Floyd, Etron Fu Leloublan, and Samla Mammas Manna. If you’re looking for something a bit more challenging than the standard fare prog/rock you’ve been listing to – or happen to be an aficionado of R.I.O. then Gunnelpumpers and their album “Montana Fix” is well worth a listen. Especially fans of Crimson’s improvisational pieces.”
– Joseph Shingler, ProgNaut (Jul 18, 2013)

“Montana Fix” may make listeners aware of how to arrange exciting music for three basses, guitar and percussion.
– Siggy Zielinski, Babyblau Prog-Reviews (Jul 09, 2013)

“[Montana Fix] is a nineteen track album that takes some time and patience to appreciate. But if you are in the mood for something completely different, this is a great alternative album to put on the CD player. ”
– Mark Johnson, Sea of Tranquility (Jul 13, 2013)

“I regret that I had never heard Gunnelpumpers. I’m glad that it happened. And what you want.”
– Leonid Auskern, Jazz Quad Magazine (Jul 10, 2013)

“Double bassist Matthew Golombisky is credited on many songs with likeable noise (whatever that is), but it’s a term that could just as easily apply to the band’s experimental-yet-accessible sound.”
– Ron Schepper, textura.org (Jun 28, 2013)
“The highlight [of Montana Fix] is a ten-minute, hand-made piece of dark ambient, all real, earthy and rhythmic. A crazy journey, but very digestible by the subdivision into shorter pieces almost exclusively.”
– Michael We, NONPOP (Jun 08, 2013)

“[Montana Fix], the fourth full-length album, features close to 80 minutes (!) worth of music…and each and every second is interesting and provocative. There’s a lot to take in here…which means you can spin this one for weeks…months…years…and still find something new that you might have previously missed.”
– LMNOP aka dONW7, babysue (Jun 03, 2013)

“instrumental music of the highest order. Open-your-head music. An amazing, expansive mix of influences – classical, jazz, world music. [Montana Fix] is intense, moody, introspective, groovy, transcendent, atmospheric, mind-expanding. A great collection of grooves that roam across the sonic horizon. The collective vibe of this group is stunning. Inspired!”
– James Moeller, whitewolfsonicprincess (May 23, 2013)

Sound of Silent Film in NYC, Gunnelpumpers at Constellation

Hello all,

My dad is having hip replacement surgery today, June 3. I’ll to be taking the week off work to help him out post-op. Please consider sending him lots of love/prayer/positive energy.

2013 Thus Far

On the musical front, the past several months have been insanely busy. After last Thursday’s concert with the Chicago Composers Orchestra, I had to look back and assess how busy it actually was. Since the beginning of the year, I have had approximately 38 rehearsals, 44 performances, three recording sessions, three fantasy baseball drafts, two rounds of golf, one major composition rewrite, one CD produced, one website facelift, one day job, not enough sleep.

One Major Composition Rewrite

“One major composition rewrite” refers to a re-orchestration and overall “tightening up” of a 14-minute soundtrack called “Die Wunderkammer” I wrote for the Sound of Silent Film (SoSF) in 2010. The film is “The Cabinet of Jan Svankmajer”, created by the Brothers Quay in 1984 as a homage to one of the great pioneers of stop-motion animation, Jan Svankmajer. The instrumentation for new version of Die Wunderkammer is flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano and percussion.

Sound of Silent Film was started eight years ago by Seth Boustead and Access Contemporary Music (ACM), and involves living writing music for modern silent films, whereupon this music is performed live with the films. ACM is taking the Sound of Silent Film to New York City this coming week! The performance will take place June 7 and 8 at Anthology Film Archives at 32 Second Avenue in NYC. There has been some press leading up to the event, such as this article in The Villager, and some of the compositions were played on the Movies on the Radio program on WQXR, “New York’s Classical Radio Station.” So my piece, along with several other excellent works composed for this event, have been played on the largest major market classical music station in the country!

Here are more details about Sound of Silent Film in NYC, and the 2010 performance of my piece can be seen on YouTube here.

One final note about this Sound of Silent Film event is that ACM has started an Indie Go Go campaign to help ACM defray the incredible costs of moving this show to NYC. The plan is to ask 300 people to give ACM $20. Those small donations from everyone will really add up and help us ensure the event is a success and that all the musicians can get home. If you are or know someone willing to donate $20 to the cause of spreading contemporary classical and premiering great new music in the nation’s cultural capitol, the link is http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/bring-sound-of-silent-film-to-nyc.

One CD Produced

Squeezed in within the past five months of rehearsals/performance/sessions with whitewolfsonicprincess, Chicago Composers Orchestra, Bach for the Sem, Too Hot To Handel, Christina Trulio, Jason Steele, Access Contemporary Music, Joffrey Ballet, Strawdog Theatre Company, New Millennium Orchestra, VOX 3 Collective, Mark Darling, Hershey Felder’s An American Story, Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, Elgin Symphony, St. Luke’s Bach Cantata Series, and Lawrence Axelrod, we have managed to produce Gunnelpumpers fourth CD, Montana Fix.

It has been quite the journey to bring this 19-song project to completion, and the end result is intended as a rewarding one for the listener. There’s no explicit plot or storyline, but the music travels to places far and wide. There’s even a track inspired by the “B natural” earth resonance frequency.

One Website Facelift

For more information about this release, see our newly redesigned website at http://gunnelpumpers.com. Three of the new songs can be previewed on the site, and there are also over 12 hours of live recordings, where you can click on a musician’s name and only the shows that he/she played on will be displayed. Super slick. Thank you, WordPress!

Upcoming Shows

Gunnelpumpers has three shows on the docket. Two newly scheduled shows have popped up recently, and take place in just two weeks. Saturday, June 15, we’re playing at a house party. If you are interested in going, please email me at gunnelpumpers@gmail.com.

Sunday, June 16, Gunnelpumpers has been invited to perform at the amazing new venue, Constellation, at 3111 N. Western Avenue. We’ll be playing a short avant-garde set as part of the MAVerick Ensemble and Friends concert. MAVerick artistic director William Jason Raynovich will be joining us on electric ‘cello! Additional details are on this Facebook event page.

The Montana Fix CD release show is scheduled to take place Wednesday, July 24, at Martyrs‘. Even original member, percussionist Doug Brush, will be in town all the way from New Zealand. By all accounts it appears that this will be a 17+ show as well.

I fully expect you all to check out every link. 😛


Douglas Johnson



Yea, the Golden Age of Gunnelpumpers


While the “Golden Age of Gunnelpumpers” phrase has been heard before, this is truly an exciting time for us. I’ve been working like the dickens to totally redesign our web site, and it’s really coming together, IMHO. If you’re old enough to remember, it’s like the “New Marie”, but prettier.

There is a preview of our new CD, Montana Fix, that can be heard here. I’m absolutely thrilled about the album and would love for y’all to give it a listen. The release date is July 24, 2013, with a release party at Martyrs’ in Chicago. Please join us!

I’m also putting up as many live recordings of our shows as possible, sortable by the performers. As they say, “Every Gunnelpumpers show is like a snowflake: unique, impermanent, and beautiful, unless it’s a less-beautiful mutant snowflake.”

Please stop on by gunnelpumpers.com and click around and give things a listen. There’s always more to do, but that’s just an existential reality.


Douglas Johnson

Gallery Cabaret on Saturday 4/27/2013, Access Contemporary Music, NYC!

“Well. hello there.” From Peter Schickele Presents an Evening with P. D. Q. Bach (1807–1742?)

Just a quick dang doodle email about an upcoming show this Saturday night, April 27, at Gallery Cabaret at 2020 N. Oakley, the best possible address in hindsight. Four bands, no cover, a plethora of musical goodness.

Hannah Frank & Co. will open the evening around 10pm, followed by The Red Apples, followed by whitewolfsonicprincess (with whom I will get to play their great tunes!), followed by Gunnelpumpers. At 12:30 or 1:00 am! Yes, burning the midnight oil. Some serious night owlage ‘Twill be mucho Spaß!

The fair and balanced Gunnelpumpers lineup will feature John Meyer (and possibly Steve Roberts) on guitar(s), Michael Hovnanian, Tom Mendel and myself on basses, and Randy Farr and Sir Robert Garrett on skins. And the neighbors thought we were too loud last time…

I will have on hand our new CD “Montana Fix”, which you can only get from me until it becomes widely available the day of our CD release party at Martyrs on July 24. In fact, if you see me anywhere between now and July 24, just ask me how far away the nearest copy of Montana Fix is, and I will probably try to get you to trade $10 for it. It’s a fair deal. Oh, yes. Indubitably.

A couple of final thingalings pertaining to Access Contemporary Music (ACM), with whom I get to make wonderful music from time to time. I’ll be performing May 21 at Architectural Artifacts with them, the 1,001 Afternoons in Chicago program in collaboration with the Strawdog Theater Company. Check it out at http://www.acmusic.org/attend/concerts/1001-afternoons-chicago.

Finally, ACM is taking the highlights from the last eight year of The Sound of Silent Film to NYC on June 7 and 8. The SOSF features modern silent films paired with music composed by living composers for these films, thereupon said films are shown with a live performance of the film score in front of a live theatre audience. I’m sure there’s a better way to say that. No matter, one of my few written-out compositions, “Die Wunderkammer”, was composed as part of the 2010 SOSF for the Quay Brothers’ “The Cabinet of Svankmajer”, a fascinating 14-minute stop-motion animation picture, scored for flute, b-flat clarinet, violin, ‘cello, piano and percussion. Anyway, I just put the finishing touches on this version of the piece, and if you’re in NYC June 7 or 8, you can see the performances at the Anthology Film Archives at 32 Second Avenue in Manhattan.

Anyway, that’s enough for now. Be well.
Douglas Johnson